Education Welfare Officer

The Job and What's Involved

Education welfare officers aim to make sure that young people get the best possible education. They work with young people whose education is being affected by irregular attendance or absence from school.

Poor attendance at school can be caused by many different factors. These include family problems (for example, the young person may have to act as a carer), health and psychological problems, bullying, inability to cope with school work, poor relationships with teachers, peer pressure, pregnancy, or lack of family support.

The job involves:

  • Assessing problems and possible solutions by working closely with schools, pupils, their parents and carers.
  • Sharing information with other parties such as teachers, educational psychologists, social workers, probation officers, the police and Connexions personal advisers.
  • Conducting assessments of children and young people.
  • Improving the links between the school and the home.
  • Helping families get all the benefits and help they are entitled to such as free school meals, clothing and help with transport to school.
  • Preparing reports on children with special educational needs.
  • Advising schools on strategies to get all pupils to attend.
  • Tracking pupils who go missing.
  • Arranging alternative education for pupils who cannot attend school.
  • Promoting child safety in line with the Children's Act, and contributing to child protection and safeguarding procedures.
  • Issuing work and performance permits to children and young people, and following up breaches in regulations on the employment of children.
  • Where appropriate, prosecuting parents who fail to ensure their children receive a suitable education - this involves writing reports and preparing evidence for legal action, and may involve giving evidence in court.
  • Implementing education supervision orders, school attendance orders, and anti-social behaviour initiatives such as truancy sweeps.
  • Using computer software to analyse patterns of attendance.
  • Supporting excluded pupils on their return to school.
  • Possibly training school staff and others on attendance and safeguarding issues.

Education welfare officers tend to work from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. There is also some evening work, for example, when visiting parents who may be out during the day, or going to school events such as parents' evenings.

They are usually based in a centre or school, often as part of a multi-disciplinary team. Some education welfare officers work from home.

Much time is spent away from their office meeting other professionals, and on home visits to young people and their parents. They travel around the local area, particularly if they are responsible for more than one school. Education welfare officers need a driving licence and can normally claim a car allowance as part of their job package.

Education welfare workers in England and Wales are employed by local authorities. In Northern Ireland, they work for education and library boards. Some social workers in Scotland specialise in education welfare and attendance issues. Many schools employ attendance officers, and some education welfare officers are directly managed by schools.

Vacancies for education welfare officers are advertised in The Times Educational Supplement, The Guardian, Community Care, local newspapers and on local authority websites.

All applicants are required to haveCriminal Records Bureau (CRB)checks prior to taking up employment.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

Although many educational welfare officers have degrees, requirements vary between employers. There are no set minimum entry requirements in England and Wales, but entry with no qualifications is unlikely.

Some authorities now require a degree in social work. Applicants with a qualification in social work, youth and community work, or similar qualifications, may be offered higher starting salaries. In Northern Ireland, all new entrants must now hold a social work qualification.

Education and Training

Initial training for new staff covers areas such as child protection, personal safety, equal opportunities, and offers an introduction to working with other agencies involved with young people.

Further training depends on the qualifications people have. Many education welfare officers are encouraged to do a degree or postgraduate course in social work after entry. The other alternative in England and Wales is an NVQ Level 3 or (for most officers) Level 4 in Learning, Development and Support Services for Children, Young People and Those who Care for Them.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

A three-year degree or a two-year postgraduate course in social work is available at several universities, with some part-time options. Degree courses usually require a minimum of two A levels/three H grades and five GCSE's/S grades (A-C/1-3), including English and maths. In Northern Ireland, three A levels/five H grades are required for social work degrees. Equivalent qualifications may be accepted.

Entry requirements may vary, so candidates should check with individual colleges or universities.

Previous experience of work with young people is useful and often required by employers. It is possible to gain experience through voluntary or paid work - through Community Service Volunteers (CSV), youth work, counselling, social care, classroom support, mentoring, or crisis support centres.

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Your Long Term Prospects

There are about 4,500 education welfare officers employed in England and Wales, with a further 150 in Northern Ireland. Demand for education welfare officers is steady, but competition for jobs is stronger in some parts of the UK than others.

It is possible to specialise in areas such as working with children who have special educational needs, with children of primary school age, or in re-integrating children into mainstream education.

Promotion is possible to more senior posts, such as team leader, manager or senior and principal education welfare officer. It may be necessary to change employers to gain promotion.

Education welfare officers may move into related areas of work, such as youth work, social services, Connexions, the probation service or educational psychology.

Personal Qualities

An education welfare officer should:

  • Build trusting relationships with pupils and their parents and carers.
  • Know how to support vulnerable young people.
  • Have maturity, determination and a steady temperament.
  • Listen sensitively to people's problems and be able to deal with them in a sympathetic, tactful and non-judgemental way.
  • Appreciate the value of education.
  • Keep up to date with new laws and keep accurate records.
  • Be able to analyse problems.
  • Evaluate their own work and that of others.
  • Promote equal opportunities.
  • Work well alone and as part of a team.
  • Be prepared to give evidence in magistrates' and family proceedings' courts.

Get Further Information

Northern Ireland Social Care Council, 7th Floor,
Millennium House, 19-25 Great Victoria Street, Belfast BT2 7QA
Tel: 02890 417600

Care Council for Wales, 6th Floor,
South Gate House, Wood Street, Cardiff CF10 1EW
Tel: 029 2022 6257

Children's Workforce Development Council, 3rd Floor,
Friends Provident House, 13-14 South Parade Leeds LS1 5QS
Tel: 0113 244 6311

National Association of Social Workers in Education

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